Well, here we are in Tassie.
Up till February 2012, neither Wendy or I had ever visited this little Island.
Come with us and share some of the Island with us.
St Helens (including Georges Bay)
Largest town and holiday destination on Tasmania’s East Coast
St Helens is a substantial seaside town located 166 km (via Scottsdale) east of Launceston and 36 km north of St Marys. It is the largest town on the Tasmanian East Coast. Its economy is dependent on fishing, timber and tourism. And, when it comes to tourism, the town prides itself in its warmth and sunniness – the result of a microclimate produced by surrounding hills and warm ocean currents. Consequently St Helens is warmer than Melbourne in winter and enjoys an average of 22°C in February.
The first European to explore the St Helens area was Captain Tobias Furneaux who sailed up the coast in 1773. He named the southern point of Georges Bay, St Helens Point.
By the 1830s Georges Bay was being used by whalers and sealers. Not surprisingly the settlement which grew up on the shore became known as Georges Bay and the local Aborigines became known as the Georges Bay tribe.
The first official land grant was provided in 1830 and in 1835 the small village was renamed St Helens. It would have continued to be an inconsequential port had not tin been discovered at Blue Tier in 1874. Suddenly the port, and the routes to the tin mines, were awash with mines. Over 1000 Chinese moved through the port. From 1874 until the turn of the century the tin mines prospered.
When the mines closed the miners moved to the coast and many of them settled in St Helens. Slowly the port changed so that today it has a major fishing fleet which is supported by boat building, ships chandlery and other ancillary activities. In recent times tourism, driven by fishing and the town’s mild climate, has become important.
From St Helens you can explore Binalong Bay and Bay of Fires, which extend to Eddystone Point. The Bay of Fires (named by British Captain Tobias Furneaux who only saw the smoke from the fires of the local Kunnara Kuna tribe), has white sandy beaches, giant granite boulders, and the area is popular with divers because of its kelp forests and underwater caves.
Tobias Furneaux a Captain, navigator and explorer was born on the 21 August 1735 at the family estate, Swilly, near Plymouth, Devon, England. Joining the Royal Navy in February 1755 , he ascended through the ranks to become Captain of H.M.S. Adventure on 29th November 1771 , which was under the overall command of Captain James Cook (1728-1779) who had the instructions “to discover and obtain a complete knowledge of the Land and Islands supposed to be situated in the Southern Hemisphere”, when he undertook The Great Antarctic Expedition of 1772-1775.
The expedition sailed from Plymouth in July 1772, and then headed east and south. The two ships were separated in fog on the 8th February 1773 and Adventure made for the agreed rendezvous, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand. En route Furneaux directed his course for Van Dieman’s Land, sighting South West Cape on the 9th March he subsquently layoff Bruny Island from the 11th March 1773 “wooding and watering”, naming this area as Adventure Bay. Sailing north along the east coast of Tasmania he named St Patrick’s Head, St Helens Point, the Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point.When sailing between St Helens point and Eddystone Point, Furneaux believed the area to be densely populated due to the number of campfires he observed, thus he named the area the Bay of Fires.
Meanwhile from the beaches and inlets of the Bay of Fires, and no doubt from other coastal locations along the east coast of Van Dieman’s Land, aboriginals observed the passing of this flotilla, little knowing what would be the massive impacts and consquences for their families, traditions and culture in the years to come. Aboriginal tribes who frequented this area, known by them as Larapuna, the meeting place were the Panpe-kanner, Leener-rerter and Pinter-rairer family groups come together.
Today there are a number of known Aboriginal middens, shell and burial sites, which have been located in some of the sand dunes within the Bay of Fires; locals and visitors to these areas are asked to take care not to disturb these important cultural sites which are protected by law. http://binalongbay.com.au/binalong-bay/history
Watch the slide show below.